Norman Borlaug honored with statue in U.S. Capitol
Four years after his death, legendary crop researcher Norman Borlaug is being granted one of the nation's highest honors today, National Ag Day.
A bronze statue of Borlaug, father of the green revolution, will be placed in the U.S. Capitol. He will join a Statuary Hall lineup of giants and notables from throughout U.S. history.
Borlaug devoted his life's work to increasing the food supply in the developing world. His work was so influential that he's credited with saving millions of lives. In 1970, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Borlaug died in 2009 at age 95, fueling efforts in his home state of Iowa to memorialize his contribution.
Admirers also cheered those efforts at the University of Minnesota, where Borlaug received his undergraduate, master's and doctoral degrees and maintained ties throughout his life.
Inside the U.S. Capitol, each of the 50 states has a pair of statues of famous sons or daughters, of all walks of life, for display in and around Statuary Hall.
Virginia is represented by statues of George Washington and Robert E. Lee. Texas honored Sam Houston and Stephen Austin. Oklahoma chose statues of humorist Will Rogers and Cherokee notable Sequoyah.
But Iowa was represented by a pair of early-state political figures who were prominent a century ago, though less known today.
For many years, Congress wouldn't permit states to swap out existing statues for newer figures, noting they are gifts. But eventually it relented, thereby allowing California to add a statue of Ronald Reagan, and Kansas a statue of Dwight Eisenhower.
Adding Borlaug required several years and consent from leaders in both Iowa and Washington, D.C. The statue of Sen. James Harlan, installed in 1910, will be relocated to the Iowa community of Mount Pleasant, where Harlan once served as president of Iowa Wesleyan College.
And Borlaug's statue will take its place. The dedication is set for today, March 25, the centennial of Borlaug's birth.
"It's been quite a process," said Megan Forgrave, director of communications for The World Food Prize, a group that Borlaug founded to honor achievements in feeding the world.
The bronze statue was created by artist Benjamin Victor of South Dakota. It depicts Borlaug in a field of wheat, notebook in hand, engaged in the nuts-and-bolts research that made him a giant.
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